Karune, Blizzard’s RTS Community Manager, has posted a brand new Q&A batch on Battle.net. This one includes a special “Chat with Devs” section, dedicated solely to StarCraft 2’s new death animations.
Chat with Devs: Between adding new unit models and sliming up the zerg buildings, the StarCraft II art team has also spent some time on some little details that make the game come alive, such as new unit death animations. Featured below, we have a protoss carrier being blown out of the sky by a squad of terran marines, as well as several zerg units falling to their fates.
The artistic effort behind these death animations was first mentioned in June 2008, when Karune stated that
“currently, we are looking to have different types of death animations available for multiplayer than will be present for the single player campaign.”
And again in January this year, when the Chat with Devs section included the following graphic descriptions:
The art team has been adding several new death animations for units including the Drone’s disintegration into ashes when torched by Hellions, or the explosion of the Overlord sacs by Marine Gauss Rifle fire, and even Marauders being sliced into various pieces by Dark Templars.
So be sure to check out the neat, short video that Blizzard’s Devs put up to demonstrate the art team’s recent efforts.
1. Add an option in the menu to disable the windows key, and same thing goes for ALT-TAB?
And add an EASY way to squelch your opponent. When their name “IllIIlIIlIIlIIlllI” (L & i), it’s a little difficult.
While we are not considering disabling the windows key and Alt+Tab, we are looking into the naming policy to prevent problems like the one you described.
A naming policy (except for profanity, racism, etc… ) for a futuristic RTS title would definitely be a first. Blizzard has implemented a rather strict naming policy in World of Warcraft due to its RPGish nature, but we highly doubt that it’ll find its way into the StarCraft world…. unless… use your imagination.
2. StarCraft 2’s terrain properties such as Xel’Naga towers, destroyable barriers and Brush have a significant effect on gameplay and appear to create specific points of interest/advantage on the map. Are there plans to introduce additional terrain buffs/effect to the battlefield?
The current terrain features are not finalized. We still have these three map features in the game and we plan to keep them during the beta, but it is always possible to add more features if we find something that’s balanced and encourages exciting game play.
3. Since there are/were plans to integrate voice communications into multiplayer, will StarCraft 2 replays be able to include Audio, as well as chat?
Replay files do not include audio. However you will be able to see all text chats while you are watching replay.
If Blizzard actually deploys a proprietary StarCraft 2 audio communication solution, there is no real technical reason not to allow an audio recording to be attached to the replay file that players get at the end of the match, so it’s quite a shame that it is not being presently considered. If Blizzard does not provide its own tool for recording the audio during battles, it’s likely players will keep using external tools for either recording voice or even for communicating, forgoing the use of Blizzard’s system completely.
4. You have talked a bit about replay functions lately and since patches will come up definitely former replays won’t work if the system sticks with SC1 or W3. Do you plan on making changes here so that players can view older replays ever after patches occur?
Yes, even as the game gets patched, you will be able to watch replays of matches played on older versions.
5. The interface we see in Battle Reports – is this interface available for Observers during a live game (in real time), or only while viewing replays, or both?
The interface you’ve seen in Battle Reports will be available in observer mode as well as in replays during beta.
6. StarCraft II is a package consisting of single player/campaign, multiplayer (+replay viewer), map editor and Battle.net. All four are complex and without a doubt require testing and patching. Has it been decided which of the above components are planned to be included in public beta testing?
You can have multiplayer game access through Battle.net during the beta and you can watch the replays as well. There will also be access to the Map Editor during the beta process but not necessarily from the start. Single player campaign will not be included in the beta.
Blizzard has officially confirmed that the beta will include:
- Multiplayer via Battle.net 2.0
- Replay viewer
- Map Editor
- No Campaign
- Player versus AI
Blizzard has also released the 5th installation of the Fansite Q&A series, answering questions mailed in by the SC2Armory community.
1) Blizzard, how attached are you guys to the proton charge/mule extra macro-for-money system? I know nothing is set in stone at this point, but will these mechanics in all likelihood make it into the final game?
This is a mechanic that we would like to keep if possible. Because the game is not yet in beta phase, there may still be tweaks and changes to these mechanics, but we are looking forward to players trying it out themselves in beta. We will continue testing the macro mechanics internally and we really want to see how the players will adopt these mechanics into their gameplay.
StarCraft 2’s new macro mechanics are expected to be tweaked and balanced heavily during the beta, but are very unlikely to be removed. Blizzard has every reason to get “attached” to these tools, since they provide an elegant solution to the over-automation that many gamers have complained about prior to the mechanics’ introduction in February this year.
2) With missile barrage and Yamato cannon, Battlecruisers’ can deal with most threats. My question is, how effectively can a Battlecruiser be countered? How well do Hydralisks, Void Rays, and Vikings work vs Missile barrage?
Hydralisks are easily the Zerg’s most important ground unit against air, including Battlecruisers. Void rays can be a good Protoss counter for battlecruiser, with focused fire and increasing damage over time on its attack. In fighter mode, the Terran viking does +10 damage against massive units like the battlecruiser.
3) Brood War Mutalisk micromanagement is an important aspect of the Terran vs. Zerg match up. Blizzard has been reported to be trying to implement some form of the Mutalisk stacking bug. My question is, how well do Terrans deal with stacked Mutalisks now that Irradiate is no longer in the game, Medics are higher tier, and a single control group can consist of much more then the eleven Mutalisks currently in StarCraft: Brood War?
The ghost’s snipe shot, which deals 60 damage (and ignores armor) to biological units like the mutalisk, can be a good defensive ability. The Thor’s anti-air attack also has +2 damage against Mutalisk’s Light armor. Additionally, the nighthawk’s hunter seeker missile gives splash damage, making it a great counter against mutalisk stacking, considering it does 150 damage. One missile can effectively 1-shot a whole stack of mutalisks if the zerg player does not try to dodge the missile. Even though players can group up many more than 12 mutalisks in a stack now, with abilities like the Hunter Seeker missile on the field, they may still want to think twice about it.
Well, that’s straightforward. Yes, we will allow Zerg players to stack a LOT of Mutalisks and use that to their advantage, just like in SC: BW. Yes, the Terrans get an instakill AoE banhammer to deal with the aforementioned menace.
4) When the Corrupters attack turns enemy flyers into “turrets” does the unit turned effect damage? In other words would a corrupted mutalisk do any less damage than a corrupted Battlecruiser or Mothership?
Once they are corrupted, all corrupted units will do the same damage.
5) If the Zerg Infestor uses neural parasite on a unit, will that unit still have all upgrades / abilities if the player researched them?
Yes, the parasited unit will have all upgrades / abilities.
Neural Parasite, the Zerg’s short-term late-game mind control ability, is not likely to see much play in intense 1v1 skirmish games, and there’s little, if any, reason to present limitations or nerfs on the controlled units. Prime targets would undoubtedly be casters; wasting the enemy unit’s energy and getting it killed in the process could become a viable late-game strategy for dealing with Protoss Templars and Terran Ravens.
6) Goliath could benefit from the Charon Boosters in SC:BW, However the Goliath is now replaced by the Viking (air mode) as AtA unit. Is there still any range increase going to happen for the Viking, to extend it’s missile range like the Goliath, or is it presumed unnecessary because Vikings can truly fly (and thus not limited in mobility)?
There is currently no range upgrade for the viking. However, vikings can still move in and out combat by shifting modes. In regards to the unit’s mobility, vikings will be much better than the original StarCraft’s goliath due to its new transformation abilities.
7) When we were told EMP was removed from the Ghost, it wasn’t mentioned what, if any, spell/ability would replace it. Can you comment on the current spells and abilities of the Ghost? And is EMP still a possibility for the game, whether on the Ghost or any other unit?
The ghost has regained the EMP ability again and EMP now does 100 damage to shields and drains all energy from player’s own and enemy units in the targeted area.
8 ) Can Blizzard give a well detailed explanation on how the new mechanic of the ability hallucination work. It was said that it can spawn 8 fake probes, how many then to other units? Zealots, stalkers, immortals, air units? Can it be used on allies (Zerg and Terrans)?
By using 100 energy, you can spawn one of these sets: 2 zealots, 2 stalkers, 1 immortal, 2 high templars, 1 archon, 1 void ray, 1 phoenix, 1 warp prism, or 1 colossus. You can only spawn Protoss units
It’s not entirely clear why this semi-nerfed version was put in place of the more powerful version originally suggested for StarCraft 2. Hallucination was a rarely used spell due to its direct competition with the dreaded Psi Storm and it’s highly unlikely to see anyone using it to create a single paper Immortal.Google+
This weekend, GameMeca and PlayXP, two Korean gaming websites, have published extensive hands-on impression articles and have released numerous new StarCraft 2 screenshots which were taken during a event in South Korea. Blizzard has also released a new Fansite Q & A session via SCLegacy, spanning 9 questions, though revealing little new information.
GameMeca’s article has been translated by SCLegacy’s editors (download the article in PDF version here). The lengthy article hasn’t revealed any drastic changes in the latest StarCraft 2 build; however, some observations are worth noting.
The amazing truth is that there was no loading time. Like eating rice after putting it in water (a common way for Koreans to cool down rice instantly while not altering the flavor SC:L) the loading time was over almost instantly
It appears that Blizzard’s developers have opted for pre-caching the game’s map data, graphics and engine during the players’ stay in the game waiting room, prior to the actual match. This is a welcome improvement over current models, and it won’t be surprising to see more developers following in Blizzard’s footsteps in newer games.
….the game being host to a fast sense of speed. From the speed of Probes mining minerals to the movement and attack speeds of the Zealots and Zerglings, and also the rate at which units killed and died in the middle of a battle. The speed was approximately 1.5 times faster than the current ‘Star’.
The above statement is in line with Blizzard’s own statements regarding average game length expectations and what’s been observed in the Battle Reports. Games are furiously fast, and army collisions often result in immediate and heavy damages due to the abundance of splash and AoE dishing units and the overall increase in game pace.
The graphics quality probably will not surpass those of the recently released RTS, ‘Warhammer 40K, Dawn of War2’, but its refined, polished look and the light, warm colors give the whole game a graceful, pristine feel
StarCraft 2 is not graphically inferior to contemporary RTS titles, especially after the recently implemented model and texture upgrades. Having participated in DoW2′s beta, we’ve enjoyed the killing blow animations and explosive effects of Dawn of War 2, but there’s little, if any, need for improvement to StarCraft 2’s graphics.
…when multiple workers were selected and one mineral was clicked, instead of rushing all to that one mineral they all spread out, going in different directions like the good friends they are.
And so passes the ancient art of first-second worker control.
Next is the ability to hotkey multiple selections and squads. The original selection cap of only 12 multiple selections has increased to 24, and when selecting with hotkeys it was possible to go above the 24 limit. If 25 Zealots were set to hotkey number 1, the space that showed unit details said 24 units were set to hotkey 1 and the leftover one unit was set to hotkey 2.
There is no limit on the number of selected units. However, hot-keyed control groups are limited to 24 units each, with the game automatically assigning the “overflow” units to the next control group number.
… when multiple buildings were selected it was necessary to press the unit production button as many times as the number of buildings.
It was because if you pressed the button once, the first of the selected buildings started producing, and if you pressed another time the second building produced and so on. It was the same for unit upgrades, like in the case of 10 hydras. If all ten were selected, you needed to press the Lurker button 10 times to make all ten into Lurkers.
The above mechanism is an example of the sort of brilliant decisions that make Blizzard games what they are. Players are provided with a comfortable, “automated” way of selecting multiple units and buildings, yet are given full control over the number and types of units produced/upgraded. Pressing one button does not create a horde of identical units, but players are not denied the option of producing from groups of buildings via hotkeys either.
PlayXP has published six super hi-res shots:
SC:L’s Fansite Q&A clarifies several moot points, mainly on aspects either inherited from StarCraft 1 or left unclear after previously being discussed in a vague manner during StarCraft 2’s development.
1. Are any other units aside from the Dark Templar going to have multiple models (ie. male and female Ghosts)?
Currently, we’re not considering any other units for multiple models.
2. In the original StarCraft and Brood War, Carriers have been very rarely used for competitive matches due to their ineffectiveness in small numbers because of their critical mass effect. Up until now, what changes or ideas have played with to increase their effectiveness in small numbers with or without other ships for support, and what is the current status on the Carrier? Also, what about the Battlecruiser?
In general, it’s still better if you have as many carriers or battlecruisers as possible in the battle. However, small numbers of carriers or battlecruisers will be still very useful for supporting both ground and air units.
3. We were told recently that workers can’t patrol. This makes SCV auto-repair a lot less useful. (In Warcraft III, you could set a worker to patrol, and it would auto-repair any damaged buildings or mechanical units nearby. Great for keeping towers (and bunkers!) alive.)
SCVs can patrol, so if you activate auto-casting of the SCV’s repair ability, that SCV will repair damaged buildings or units it encounters while on patrol. The SCV will repair nearby units and buildings and continue its designated patrol pattern again after the repairs are complete.
Players will be able to assign SCVs to repair duty, leaving another repetitive StarCraft 1 chore behind. This will be a handy tool for frequently raided expansions and stretched. turtled defense lines.
4. What use does the Overlord usually see versus the Nydus Worm? That is, in what capacity is each transport mechanic used?
It all depends on a player’s choice in each case. When you want try out a sneaky and clever attack on the enemy’s base, the nydus worm can be useful in that role as a more tactical and general choice for harassing the enemy’s economy. However, you can also use a mass overlord drop just like the original StarCraft, for an aggressive, all-out attack. However, the overlord drop is riskier, as you’re putting much of your supply and the cargo in jeopardy if you encounter strong anti-air defense.
5. Can Thors or Colossi be transported in any way?
Thors and colossi can be transported by each race’s transportation units: the medivac and the warp prism.
Thors being transported by anything short of a Battlecruiser constitutes a major realism issue. Thors are huge not only visually, but “by design”, so to speak. Two Reavers were never small enough to fit in a shuttle, but a Reaver was never perceived as a multi-cannon front-line behemoth like the Thor is. Carrying a Thor inside the Medivac reverses Blizzard’s long time decision of making the Thor untransportable.
6. How do you use the Thor’s resurrection ability? Does it cost resources to use?
Thor doesn’t have the resurrection ability any more in the current build. While the mechanic was a cool idea on paper, it didn’t end up being especially practical when we tried it in internal playtesting.
7. How has more efficient AI and pathfinding affected the game? Does it make the game easier?
AI in StarCraft II is much more developed from the original StarCraft. For example, the computer is required to scout to find you now in every difficulty mode. In higher difficulty modes, the AI will adapt to what it sees you are building to counter your selected strategy with key units of their own. This means that the computer no longer cheats as far as “knowing” where you are and what you’re doing. It can only react to what it sees when their scouts find your units and bases.
The pathfinding is also much improved in StarCraft II, which will reduce some frustration when directing your units to move long distances around varying terrain. Certain melee units are also smarter about attempting to surround enemies, but we don’t believe this makes the game “easier.” Players who choose to micro their armies will still have an advantage.
8. I would like to know if the MULE can repair air units and lifted-off buildings, and in turn, could we see MULEs being called down in the front lines to repair Battlecruisers and Thors or in the corner of the map to repair a burning Command Center that was lifted off to escape an attack? Also, at what rate does a MULE repair? Faster or slower than an SCV?
The mule is only for gathering minerals or scouting. You cannot repair units or structures with the mule.
9. Regarding the “Discussion with Artosis and Idra” video – does their prediction that Zerg vs. Zerg is degrading into “Roach spam” have any validity? Will ZvZ matchups frequent a more diverse selection of units beyond Zerglings, Roaches, and Mutalisks?
We would like to see as many units as possible being used in the battle, instead of some selected units like zerglings, roaches, and mutalisks. We are still polishing and balancing units including the roach, and hope to see how the players will make various combinations of units during the beta.
Blizzard has made it clear that they’re comitted to preventing all possible match-ups from “deteriorating” into battles involving 2-3 units many times before. Unit spam is a core issue which plagues the majority of existing RTS titles, and solutions require a lot of testing, feedback and balancing – the main goals of the upcoming beta.Google+
If, at any point, you find yourself running a multi-billion dollar company which throws up a self-promotional annual event, sells attendance tickets at $125 a pop… and they sell out in 15 seconds, you’ve probably done something extremely right.
While these might not be Michael Morhaime’s exact thoughts, Blizzard deserves credit for having BlizzCon tickets sold out within seconds of becoming available. Although it was not “officially” confirmed, an experiment run by IncGamers provides some justification for the strange ticket queue system that Blizzard had used.
A staff member of IncGamers tried the new system and refreshed the site every second before sales opening. Four seconds after the sales had started, the queue was over 2.500 buyers long, and 10 seconds later the queue was full. The actual queue time to pay the tickets took about 30 minutes. Every fan in the queue could buy up to five tickets.
The event is planned to take place in a convention centre fit to accomodate nearly 30,000 people, and the rest of the tickets (A guesstimate total of 10,000-14,000) will be realeased in a second batch ten days from now, on May 30th. Keep your wallets close by – you’ll only have a few seconds to get in on the ground floor.Google+
The German GameStar gaming magazine has gotten StarCraft 2’s Lead Designer, Dustin Browder, to sit down and give them a lengthy interview, primarily reiterating the changes StarCraft 2 went through over the course of the last two years and the main goals of the upcoming Beta. Team Liquid was kind enough to post a detailed translation, and you can download the entire 29 question interview here.
Some of Dustin Browder’s answers contain new information and also provide some insight about Blizzard’s plans for the immediate future.
Q: What happens during the beta test?
A: We take a look at which strategies are most popular. By that we realize, which elements work out already. Then we adapt the game into this direction, to make it even more fun. The players’ opinion has always been important to us, Starcraft and Brood War have made fundamental changes during beta and even after release. The final version of Sc2 could be vastly different from what you have played so far.
Blizzard’s utter (and justified) disregard towards official release dates puts a big fat “When It’s Done” stamp on StarCraft 2. The Beta period is unlikely to have a specific time frame, and it’s reassuring to see that the developers are willing to tweak and change the game as much as needed for it to become a masterpiece.
Q: By the way. Why did you change Zerg’s Nydus Channel? When we played the aliens the first time, we have a giant worm dig behind the enemy lines to spew out troops there. Now we can only build a building that look like a worm. The original one was way cooler!
A: Right, but it caused technical issues. We had difficulties with its looks and its control. It would have been lots of efforts to get it right. Also, the worm didn’t work out well in terms of balance. Therefore he won’t make it in, at least not into the first episode of Sc II, Wings of Liberty. After that we will consider what we can do with him in future. We still talk alot about him.
The burrowing Nydus Worm was one of the coolest, most ambitious and problematic mechanisms to be introduced into StarCraft 2. Showcased during the initial Zerg Introduction in March 2008, and confirmed to be removed during the BlizzCon event of the same year, the worm has received a lot of attention from both fans and the developers before it stopped being a unit and turned into a structure.
Q: Right, in the first part, you could only cross cliffs with flying units, plateau bases were therefore better protected. Since we just touched this topic: How do units benefit from being placed on high ground?
A: You cannot see them from low ground. At least as long as you do not use spotters, flyers or special talents, like the Terran scan. This can be a huge advantage, especially for Terran with their mighty Siege Tanks: As long as the enemy does not reveal them, they can blow him into pieces without resistance. Zerg profit the least from height advantage, since their ground range units do not fire very far. But with the Overlord and the Overseer they field two very good spotters. Apart from this, height differences have no effect. In SCI, there was a chance that units on the lowground would miss enemies on high ground. We removed this percentage since we do not like chance elements. The players ought to know exactly what advantage they have. And how to counter it.
Q: Apropos huge armies. In comparison to its predecessor, you are allowed to select many more units in Sc2. And that’s great. But still, some game concepts seem antiquated, for example the 3D camera that does not zoom out very far. Or the production queue that can only hold five units. Why did you change unit selection but kept the other elements the same?
A: There is a quite obvious reason for the camera position. I am not a big fan of zooming out very far from battles. In other games, this might work out, but not in Starcraft. There is so much Micro that the battles would look confusing if you could zoom out further. Also the atmosphere would get lost – the units would transform into tiny symbols and you couldn’t recognise anymore, how diligently they are designed. The feeling of fighting for a distinctive faction would get lost – and just in Starcraft, with its three characteristic races! Zoomed out very far, those battles would degenerate to a feud of ants. This might be appropriate for games like Supreme Commander, which are fully geared towards the zoom function, that have huge maps on which the units traverse very long distances. But Starcraft works differently: It happens faster, matches often last only half an hour. A zoom function simply wouldn’t fit in.
Another great call by Blizzard, which, nevertheless, is nothing short of a forced limitation. StarCraft 2, being a live 3D game, has no technical difficulty providing players with a full, zoomed-out view of the battle map – a feat that could come extremely handy if a player wanted to see his production buildings and worker line while skirmishing on the ramp leading to his base.
But StarCraft is neither Supreme Commander nor SimCity, and a full-map view, despite having obvious uses, would simply ruin the game. However, Blizzard should definitely consider the Zoom-out option of in-game Observers and in the Replay viewer.
Q: Since Blizzcon, you have changed many other things. Aren’t you frustrated about designing new game-content that gets scrapped again after a few months?
A: Hell, no! We have been doing this since years! It was always Blizzard’s philosophy to try things. In Sc2 we just started early with announcing units and abilities. Wc3 went through just the same process. Admittedly, maybe it’s a bit more serious with SC2. But that’s how it works: We develop a game, then we change it. And then we change it again. And again. That’s how we give the game the fine tuning. Of course many pieces of content accumulate that we cannot use at the moment, since they work reasonably well, but simply not great. I love that we are this flexible. We owe this to our technicians who have constructed such an outstanding engine. To rework a unit completely takes 2-3 hours at max.
Q: In Paris we noticed that the AI opponents play extremely strong at the highest difficulty setting. Are they cheating?
A: Yes, on the highest setting “insane”, the AI profits from additional resources. On all other settings, the opponents do not cheat. On the 2nd highest level “hard” they act as smart as on the highest, simply without the added resources. This is a notable improvement compared to the first game. As in many other RTS titles, the AI in SC1 would see the entire map and would know exactly where the player’s units and buildings were. In part 2, this does not hold anymore. The AI opponents have to send out scouts to find the players. Only when they find out, what the opponents are building, they adapt their tactics. If you hide units from the AI – on hills or behind bushes – you gain an advantage.
A fair AI will make StarCraft 2’s single player experience, as well as custom game allies and rivals significantly more valuable and interesting, granting advantage to players willing to “surprise” the enemy with unconventional attacks.
Q: But the day-night cycle and the weather effects wouldn’t have any gameplay effects?
A: We talked about it, and even tested it, but the answer’s: No. We do not want maps with differing rules. Just imagine a snowy area in which ground troops move more slowly. That would completely revert the balance. The Zerg would suffer a lot, since they are highly dependant on their speed. Or imagine rainy maps, on which the sight-range of flying units is reduced. The balance would be shaky and we would have to rebalance the races just because of the stupid rain. That might be an interesting idea for the future, but at the moment we don’t want it.
Also of note are several build updates, most notably to the Terran Nighthawk, formerly known as the Vulcan, formerly know as the Nomad, now called The Artist “Raven”. A new ability has been introduced as well:
Defensive Drone: With this drone you are able to intercept enemy projectiles, e.g. rockets of the terran missile turrets. Therefore this special weapon is especially well suited for attacks on bases. Against small bore (like the spines of the Hydralisk), however, it is powerless.
Considering the very specific use implied in the ability’s description, it’s likely adjustments to the Defensive Drone will be made somewhere down the road.
The recently mentioned Brood Lord has been finally revealed, and it is not entirely dissimilar to the Zerg Guardian and Swarm Guardian predecessors in neither look nor purpose.
Blizzard’s game designers have finally given StarCraft 2’s Protoss a Shield Battery, in the form a High Templar ability – making the Templar Energy- for-Shields quite an intriguing trade-off, considering the high value most Protoss players place on the Templar’s energy reserves. Of course, this will strongly depend on the exact exchange ratio determined by careful balance.
Plasma Surge: This ability is similar to the shield battery in sc1 as it allows the ht to recharge the damaged shields of all friendly protoss units in a selected area
As the game nears its beta, the changes we see become more and more important – they have a very good chance of sticking until the game’s release. However, Dustin has made abudantly clear that the developers will not shy away from making signifcant adjustments to StarCraft 2’s units and mechanics based on the feedback gamers will provide over the course of the beta period.Google+
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